If you work for a credit union or a bank, then you’re a walking billboard for that financial institution—both on and off the clock.

So let me ask you, what does your billboard say?

I ask because a few days ago, a truck pulled in front of me in the middle of traffic, for no apparent reason, and forced me to hit the brakes. Shortly down the road, it became apparent we were both headed to the same store.

I parked in the front as a customer. The individual with poor driving skills parked in the rear…as an employee. You could tell by his face that he was worried I would confront him. Of course I didn’t, but this individual made every effort to avoid eye contact and his body language screamed embarrassment.

The impression this “billboard” gave was anything but positive.

In working with credit unions and banks to create lasting brands and customized consumer experience programs, we often tell staff that they are “brand ambassadors” for their financial institution. Being an ambassador, whether it is in serving a nation or a financial institution, comes with much responsibility.

It’s a role that goes far beyond the four walls of your credit union and the typical 8-5 operating hours. In most communities, people know each other. They know who you are and where you work whether you’re a personal friend, part of their extended social circle or because you wear logo apparel in public.

The exposure is terrific. It lets staff members shine and often helps both with earning new consumers and building deeper relationships with existing ones.

But there’s a lot of pressure.

As a brand ambassador for a bank or credit union, you must carry yourself with all the kindness, courtesy and dignity your brand calls for outside the walls of your bank or credit union.